INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 83, EMPLOYMENT EQUALITY ACTS, 1998 TO 2011
AON COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND OPERATIONS IRELAND
(REPRESENTED BY O'SHEA BARRY SOLICITORS)
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Ms Cryan
Worker Member: Mr Shanahan
1. Appeal under Section 83 of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 to 2011.
2. The Worker appealed the Decision of the Equality Officer to the Labour Court on the 4th July, 2012. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 24th July, 2013. The following is the Court's Determination:-
This is an appeal by Ms. Sayara Beg against the Decision of an Equality Officer in a claim alleging discrimination on the gender and race grounds by Aon Commercial Services and Operations Ireland Limited.
The Complainant complained that she was discriminated against on the gender and race grounds when the Respondent failed to offer her certain employment positions, and in its recruitment process breached terms of Section 6(2)(a) and (h) and acted in contravention of Section 8 (a) of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011 (“the Acts”).
For ease of reference the parties are given the same designation as they had at first instance. Hence Ms. Sayara Beg will be referred to as “the Complainant” and Aon Commercial Services and Operations Ireland will be referred to as “the Respondent”.
The Equality Officer found against the Complainant when she failed to attend the hearing of her claim.
The Complainant is British of Indian ethnic origin, living in London, who at the time of the alleged discrimination had been an interim/ contractor working on MI/Business Intelligence/Data Warehousing related projects for over fifteen years. At the beginning of February 2009 through the auspices of a British based employment agency the Complainant applied for a senior role in the Respondent’s company based in Dublin. She proceeded to have four interviews, one held in London, two by telephone and one held in Dublin. The Complainant received positive feedback at each stage of the process. On 6thApril 2009 she was informed that her application had been rejected. When she sought feedback on her application she was told that while she was a strong candidate with specialist technical skills and experience, it could not define a role within its emerging structure that would have been appropriate taking account of her specific skill profile, seniority and remuneration expectations and therefore from a business and commercial perspective it decided not to offer her a role.
Summary of the Complainant’s Case
The Complainant submitted that the Respondent directly discriminated against her on the ground of her gender and race in relation to access to employment. She also claimed that she was indirectly discriminated against on gender grounds within the meaning of Sections 22 and 31 of the Acts contrary to Section 8 of the Act.
The Complainant contended that the reason she was not offered employment was because she is an ethnic minority female and not because of a lack of technical experience, qualifications or skills, this she contended amounted to discrimination on the basis of gender and race. Furthermore she submitted that she was indirectly discriminated against as women are not generally appointed to senior roles in organisations. To substantiate the latter point the Complainant submitted a UK government commissioned report“Women on boards”dated February 2011 which indicated that in 2010 women made up only 12.5% of the members of the corporate boards of FTSE 100 companies.
As background to her complaints the Complainant told the Court that she was approached by a recruitment head-hunter agency concerning a senior executive role in the Respondent’s company based in Dublin. She said that the Respondent was aware of her salary requirements before the second interview took place and at no stage did it raise any concerns about her expectations of a senior role or her salary requirements.
The Complainant attended four interviews with the Respondents, three were very positive.
To substantiate her complaint regarding alleged discrimination on the race ground the Complainant referred to two questions asked by Mr. P, Head of GRIP & Analytics during a telephone interview‘what is the origin of your name’and‘were you born in India’,this she submitted led to a series of discriminatory acts based on subconscious bias on the part of Mr. P. Both questions, she submitted, were irrelevant to the purpose of determining one's ability to do the job.
She submitted that these questions were asked by Mr. P due to his subconscious prejudiced views about females of Indian origin.
This interview was followed by a telephone interview with Ms. A, VP Global IT Aon Global Risks based in Chicago. Following this interview, Ms. A sent an email to Ms. M, HR Manager dated 2ndApril 2009 which stated:-
- "I thought she [the Complainant] was very good and could fit various roles. She is very well suited to lead GRIP reporting and could manage it end to end (e.g. infra setup, BA and strategic planning). I vote to hire",
This was subsequently followed up with a face to face interview held in Dublin on 2ndApril 2009 with Ms. M, HR Manager. The Complainant referred to interview notes taken by Ms. M where she wrote:-
- "Interest Excitement, v. structure, follow structure" "passion excited, good fit with org, aligned with orgs thinking"
The Complainant stated that at the face to face interview in Dublin on 2ndApril 2009 she was also due to meet Mr. E, Chief Information Officer based in Chicago, however, due to illness he could not attend. Instead she said that Ms. M told her that she would be meeting Mr. P. The Complainant told the Court that Mr. P popped his head into the interview room to say he was on a busy schedule. She said that Mr. P looked her up and down and said that he would not need to talk to her again as he had already spoken to her over the phone .
In her submission to the Court the Complainant submitted that Mr. P rejected her solely on the fact that she was an ethnic minority female of Indian origin seeking a senior, director level, role with a representational salary expectation equal to other directors at entry level, and that he had considerable personal difficulty considering her in such a role with an associated equal salary package comparable to a white male colleague applying for a similar position. Furthermore, she asserted that the Respondent made no effort to organise another interview in order to obtain a second opinion.
The Complainant stated that in her view Mr. P. had made his mind up not to recruit her in the first few minutes after asking the questions related to her origin and merely needed time to find a way of explaining his unfair decision to his new employers.
Summary of the Respondent’s Case
Mr. Brian Conroy, B.L. instructed by O’Shea Barry Solicitors, on behalf of the Respondent denied the allegation of discrimination.He said that neither the Complainant’s gender nor her ethnic origin were factors considered by the Respondent in the course of the interview process or in arriving at the decision not to offer her a position.
Mr Conroy told the Court that in late 2008 the Respondent’s parent company announced its decision to expand its operations through the establishment of the Aon Global Centre for Excellence in Innovation and Analytics in Dublin. He said that it was originally envisaged that the Centre was to be structured so as to comprise three separate units as follows:-
(i) Global Trading Platform, which would focus on the use of Information Technology and mathematical modelling and analytics systems to deal with information from global transactions within Aon Risk Services. The Global Trading Platform would itself comprise two streams, one being focused on IT and the other on GRIP.
(ii) Research and Analytics, which was to focus on the carrying out of research and development for a new product innovation and development function which would use best practice methodologies and risk modelling analysis to better serve clients.
(iii) Client Servicing, which would involve the carrying out of research and development into developing a globally consistent client servicing strategy.
In February 2009 the Complainant was approached by Mr H, a recruitment consultant with a London-based firm, in relation to possible vacancies in the new Centre based in Dublin. Subsequently, the Complainant submitted her CV and provided information on
her experience and interest in Business Intelligence, MI and Data Warehousing. On foot of same, an interview was arranged in London with two of the Respondent’s managers based in London. Mr. Conroy stated that no precise role had been identified at this point as the Centre was only in its infancy, however he said that it was clear that if recruited she might fit into a position related to business information, possibly within the GRIP stream of the Global Trading Platform unit.
Mr. Conroy stated that her initial interview identified her as a candidate of some interest due to her experience in Data Warehousing. A further telephone interview was arranged with Mr. P, recently appointed Operations Manager for IT and GRIP in the new Centre in Dublin. Mr. Conroy stated that it was clear to Mr. P from the Complainant's CV and her initial interview that she had a good deal of Data Warehousing technical knowledge, however, he deduced that she lacked experience and skills in personnel management.
Mr. Conroy did not contest that Mr. P at the end of the interview asked the Complainant about the origin of her name. He said that Mr. P had asked the questions by way of"small talk"both out of a desire to lighten the tone and as he was genuinely interested, however, it was denied that any inference of discrimination on race or gender grounds could be drawn from these questions and submitted that such an inference was scurrilous and devoid of objective basis.
Following the telephone interview with Mr. P. Mr Conroy stated that the Complainant spoke with Mr. H, from the recruitment agency to appraise him of what had transpired, however Mr. H verified that the Complainant made no reference to the questions asked about the origin of her name nor that she was unhappy with any of the questions asked.
Mr. Conroy stated that despite his misgivings in relation to the Complainant’s lack of people management skills Mr. P continued to feel that she could be a worthwhile candidate and so he sought further expert opinions. He proceeded to arrange another telephone interview, this time with Ms. A, Vice President of Global IT Strategy based at the Respondent’s Headquarters in Chicago. Ms. A has specialist background in data management. After this interview was held, Ms. A said that she was impressed with the Complainant's technical knowledge, therefore she submitted positive feedback and suggested that the Complainant be hired.
Mr. Conroy stated that even though the Complainant’s interviews had progressed very well, at that stage no decision had been made by the Respondent to offer her a job as no suitable position had yet been identified. This was due to the fact that the Centre was in its infancy and the Respondent was not interviewing for specific positions at that point.
The Respondent then arranged for the Complainant to attend a face-to-face interview to take place in Dublin with the HR Manager, Ms. M. Ms. M was to be accompanied by Mr. E. Chief Information Officer based in Chicago. However, on the day Mr. E. could not travel to Dublin due to serious illness. Mr. Conroy stated that Mr. P. had initially intended to attend this interview, but due to work pressures on the day was unable to. However, out of courtesy, he dropped into the interview room briefly to greet the Complainant.
Mr. Conroy stated that following the interview, Ms. M and Mr. P met to discuss the recruitment process and whether the Complainant and others should be taken forward. The Complainant had mentioned to Ms. M that she would only be interested in a senior role, she would require a minimum salary of £120,000 plus financial support for her move from the UK to Ireland, including paid accommodation for the first six months of her employment. Ms. M perceived the Complainant as an expensive and demanding candidate. Having consulted with Ms. M, Mr. P made the decision on behalf of the Respondent not to continue the recruitment process in relation to her, and cited the following reasons:-
- i.There was no suitable role at that time in light of her salary expectations.
ii.Any suitably remunerated role that might become available would be in a very senior managerial position that would require people management skills which it perceived the Complainant was lacking.
iii.The Respondent would not be in a position to fund the additional accommodation/facilities requested by the Complainant.
iv.It was not in the Respondent's interests to embark upon a negotiating process with the Complainant prior to her being extended even a provisional offer of employment.
Mr. Conroy stated that it was only following the news that her job application had not been successful - that the Complainant raised an allegation of discrimination. She was subsequently contacted by Mr. G, Human Resources Director who further elaborated upon the reasons why she had not been offered a position and he confirmed that her application was not going to be reconsidered.
Mr Conroy referred to Section 85A of the 1998 Act which requires the Complainant to establish facts from which it"may be presumed that there has been discrimination"in order for the evidential burden of disproving discrimination to pass to the Respondent. He submitted that she had gone nowhere close to establishing such facts and her allegations were nothing more that baseless conjecture. He held that the mere asking of questions concerning the origin of her name did not give rise to a factual basis for leaping from this to conclude prima facie evidence of discrimination on the race or gender ground.
In support of his position Mr Conroy relied upon the decision of the Labour Court inMelbury Developments Limited v. Valpeters  ELR 64where the Court warned that"mere speculation or assertions, unsupported by evidence, cannot be elevated to a factual basis uponwhich an inference of discrimination can be drawn."
Mr Conroy told the Court that the Respondent both on a global basis and within Ireland has a sophisticated policy mandating equal treatment in the workplace for persons of all genders and ethnic backgrounds. It has a progressive track record of employing members of minority groups and of elevating persons from a minority background to senior positions. The culture of the organisation is internationalist and is enormously conscious of the benefits which can accrue to the corporation from adopting a multicultural approach worldwide. He said that promotion is open to persons of all ethnicities. He made reference to Ms. A who conducted a telephone interview from Chicago with the Complainant. He told the Court that Ms. A is a woman of Indian origin at a very senior level within the organisation, she was Vice President of Global IT Strategy and her current title is "Chief Knowledge Officer”.
Mr. Conroy stated that one in five of the persons so far recruited to the new Centre in Dublin are non-Irish and one in three are female. He said that the Dublin Centre is intended to be a leading Research and Development Resource established to interface with the Respondent’s entire global organisation and not merely to serve the local market, and as such is particularly conscious of the need to recruit talented persons on a global basis who are at ease with international commerce and an international client base. Mr. Conroy said that it was for this reason that the recruitment consultants acting in relation to this process were based in London rather than in Dublin.
Summary of the Complainant’s Evidence
In her evidence to the Court, the Complainant outlined her contentions as described above. With reference to the questions asked during the telephone interview with Mr. P, the Complainant disputed that it was in the context of “smalltalk” and held that in any event it was not an appropriate environment for smalltalk, she was of the view that all questions asked of her were in the context of an assessment of her as a potential employee. The witness said that in her view the questions were asked because she was a woman, the only female being interviewed and Mr. P had taken the view that as an ethnic minority female she simply could not do a senior role.
She referred to the point made in his feedback of candidates where he made reference to her salary expectations:“I’m not clear on the market for this kind of person but salary of EUR120K is probably outside the budget for this role.”She said that Mr. P recognised that she was different, his suspicions were confirmed when he saw her in Dublin. She said that she believed that Mr. P was biased against her and this was reflected in the abrupt manner the selection process had finished. She said that Ms. M was influenced by Mr. P’s view of her and devised a series of reasons to justify the discrimination which occurred, these were detailed in Ms. M’s memo to Mr. J dated 7thApril 2009 where she outlined her reasons for rejected the Complainant’s candidature. The Complainant told the Court that in her view the Respondent was at fault in not providing the appropriate support and guidance to prevent discrimination.
The Complainant told the Court that in her view, as a woman seeking a position in a senior role, the statistics indicate that as Ireland was “woefully behind” in its representation of women on boards of management and this indirectly influenced the Respondent not to select her for a senior position in its company. At the hearing before the Court the Complainant submitted a UK government commissioned report“Women on boards”datedFebruary 2011 which indicated that in 2010 women made up only 12.5% of the corporate boards of FTSE 100 companies in the UK. The report produced international comparisons of women on boards as at March 2009, for the UK the figure was 7.8% and in Ireland it was 7.1%.
In cross-examination the Complainant accepted that cost was also a factor in respect of other candidates, where Mr. P had stated in respect of one male candidate“cost may be an issue”and in respect of another“at the right price”. However, she said that in her view she was singled out and a cost of £120,000 was an issue. When questioned about the views she alleged Mr. P held of her ethnicity, the Complainant said that in her experience it was commonplace for people to hold the view that workers from India were generally low skilled, low paid workers.
Further, in cross-examination the Complainant accepted that questions regarding relocating from London to Dublin were normal at a certain point in a selection procedure and are normally be conducted by the HR manager, as happened in this case.
Summary of Mr P’s Evidence
Mr. P was the newly recruited Operations Manager for IT and GRIP in the Respondent’s new Centre in Dublin, having commenced employment in March 2009 around the same time as the Complainant’s selection process commenced.
Mr. P is British and was living and working in Ireland at the time of the interview. In his evidence to the Court the witness said that prior to joining the Respondent’s company in Dublin he had worked in many different countries. Prior to being recruited by the Respondent, he worked in Japan for nine years, he had previously worked in the United Kingdom, the United States and Hong Kong. During that time he said that he had worked with people of both genders and from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. He had worked with many people of Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean backgrounds during his time in Asia. He said that while working in Japan he encouraged the promotion of an Indian woman to the position of Director (the same position which he occupied at the time) and the promotion of a Japanese woman to vice-president of his company. He told the Court that he possesses no prejudices against women or against people of Indian or of any other origin.
Referring to the telephone interview with the Complainant the witness said that once the interview proper had finished, by way of"small talk"he asked the Complainant about the origin of her name. He said that he asked these questions both out of a desire to lighten the tone and because he was genuinely interested, as it was the first time he had heard the name in the course of many years working in different countries and with persons of different ethnicities. He said that he did not in any way link the questions to the interview proper or to the qualities that would be required of an employee with the Respondent.He said that the Complainant did not express any dissatisfaction with the questions being asked at that point in time or at any other time prior to her being informed that there was no position available for her. He said that he was not left with the impression that she had taken umbrage in any way at the reference to the origin of her name.
The witness said that during the selection process in question there were no confirmed vacancies to be filled, he said that the situation was very fluid, they needed people to step into the company rather than have definitive roles, however, he said that team management skills were an important feature for any senior roles in the new developing company. He said that from his questioning of her management skills he was not satisfied that she had the necessary skills. He said that while he had doubts, the Complainant did not fall into the category of being rejected and he decided to refer her to others for further opinions.
The witness said that following a number of interviews with a large number of potential candidates, he had a meeting with Ms. M to decide on whom to hire. He said that at this meeting the Complainant’s “demands” were discussed given the doubts he had regarding her team management skills and the lack of an appropriate role for her it was decided not to hire her. He said that her salary expectations were greater than that paid to any other person being hired and there was no relocation policy available so they could not meet her expectations on that matter.
In cross-examination the witness said that the role the Complainant was possibly being considered for was in“GRIP – reporting to me”.He said that while a number of different people gave their input into the selection process that he was the ultimate decision-maker not to hire the Complainant.
Summary of Ms. M’s Evidence
Ms. M was the newly recruited Human Resources Manager having commenced employment on 2ndMarch 2009, with responsibility to set up and perform the entire HR function in the Respondent’s newly established Centre in Dublin. She said that she had responsibility for recruiting personnel and setting up HR policies and procedures. She told the Court that decisions on roles/jobs in the organisation were just evolving, the initial interest was in attempting to hire talented people who would fit into the organisation.
The witness said that after the Complainant had been interviewed by the Respondent’s executives in London Mr. P was recruited and then had a telephone interview with her. She said that the reason Mr. E from its Chicago office was asked to join the scheduled interview in Dublin with the Complainant was due to the fact that he was to be in this part of the world around that time. However, due to a severe illness he was not able to travel to Dublin and it was not considered essential to have his participation. The witness said that as the potential candidate would be reporting to Mr. P she was of the view that it was appropriate that he had the final say in who was hired.
The witness referred to the Respondent‘s record in hiring people of different ethnicities. She said that in its Irish operation at the time of the claim there were 20% non-Irish employees, there are now 36% non-Irish employees and 32% are female.
In cross-examination the witness stated that the situation was so new and so fluid that there was no definitive plan on hiring people, she said that all candidates were of potential interest, roles were evolving around people. However, she said that they did not see a position for the Complainant.
Summary of Mr. G’s Evidence
Mr. G is the Respondent’s HR Director, Ireland & International. He told the Court that the GRIP tool was developed in November 2008 and the Respondent started to mobilise its organisation structure in January 2009. The Respondent had investigated potential locations for the business and ultimately due to the talent pool in Ireland and the funding available from IDA it was decided to base its new business in Dublin. It commenced its recruitment structure by engaging the services of an agency based in London. He said that the business was very fluid and quick moving at the time. It examined the type of business streams it would enter into, it initially decided on three streams: - (i) Global Trading Platform, (ii) Research & Analytics and (iii) Client Servicing. He said that in the end Client Servicing was never embarked upon. The witness said that he was not involved in the Complainant’s selection process and it was only after the decision was made not to hire her that he became involved. This arose when the Complainant sought feedback on the reasons for her non selection and he carried out an investigation. He said that he sent an email to the Complainant outlining the reasons for her non-selection, she responded by thanking him, expressed her regret and outlined her future plans. He thought that was the end of the matter.
The witness stated that if the Complainant had been considered as “value for money” then she would have been paid the salary she required, however he said that while she had a strong skill set there was no natural role for her in the organisation at the time. He said that a year later there was a possibility of a suitable role available for her in the new Centre in Dublin, at which point it would have been commercially affordable to hire her at the salary level she required but at the time she was interviewed it was not possible to find value for the role.
Conclusion of the Court
The essence of the Complainant’s case is that she was denied access to employment in the Respondent’s new Centre based in Dublin in 2009 because she is a woman of Indian origin.
In advancing that claim she relies upon questions asked of her on the telephone during an interview held on 19thMarch 2009 with the Respondent’s Operations Manager for IT and GRIP wherein he asked a question about the origin of her name and whether she was born in India.
The Complainant also claims that she was indirectly discriminated against as a woman contrary to Sections 22 and 31 of the Acts on the basis that women are not generally appointed to senior roles in organisations and accordingly the Respondent did not offer her such a role when they discovered her salary expectations.
On the matter of indirect discrimination the Court does not accept that this allegation stands up in law. Essentially the Complainant is saying that she was discriminated against because she is a woman and therefore such an allegation comes within the definition of direct discrimination.
There is no dispute that the Respondent posed the questions at the end of a telephone interview about the origin of her name, such an act could be deemed inappropriate in the circumstances. However, such conduct is only actionable if it is discriminatory within the meaning of the Act. The Complainant bases her allegation of discrimination on her belief that the Respondent had taken the view that as an ethnic minority female she simply could not do a senior role and that workers from India were generally low skilled, low paid workers.
Burden of Proof
The Court must first consider the allocation of the probative burden as between the parties. Section 85A of the Acts provides for the allocation of the burden of proof in cases under the Acts. It was enacted to give effect to Article 10 of Directive 2000/78 (the Framework Directive) and Article 8 of Directive 2000/43 (the Race Directive).
The section provides that the Complainant must first establish facts from which discrimination may be inferred. If those facts are established on the balance of probabilities, and they are regarded by the Court as sufficiently significant to raise the inference contended for, the burden of proving that the principle of equal treatment has not been infringed in relation to the Complainant shifts to the Respondent. The Respondent must then discharge that probative burden on credible evidence and on the balance of probabilities.
Proof of unacceptable or unfair treatment is not in itself sufficient for the Complainant to succeed in her claim. It is not unlawfulper sefor an employer to behave badly or inappropriately. What the Court must examine is whether such conduct is discriminatory within the meaning of the Act. Thus before the Complainant could succeed the Court must be satisfied that the conduct complained of was motivated by reference to one or more of the discriminatory grounds.
The test normally applied by the Court to determine if the probative burden shifts to the Respondent is that formulated inSouthern Health Board v Mitchell E.L.R. 201. This requires the Complainant to prove the primary facts upon which he or she relies and to satisfy the Court that those facts are of sufficient significance to raise a presumption of discrimination. A similar approach was subsequently adopted by the Employment Appeals Tribunal for England inBarton v Investic Henderson Crosthwaite SecuritiesIRLR 494, and by the Court of Appeal inIGEN v Wong IRLR 956.
The type or range of facts which may be relied upon by a complainant can vary significantly from case to case. The law provides that the probative burden shifts where a complainant proves facts from which it may be presumed that there has been direct or indirect discrimination. The language used indicates that where the primary facts alleged are proved it remains for the Court to decide if the inference or presumption contended for can properly be drawn from those facts. This entails a consideration of the range of conclusions which may appropriately be drawn to explain a particular fact or a set of facts which are proved in evidence. At the initial stage the complainant is merely seeking to establish aprima faciecase. Hence, it is not necessary to establish that the conclusion of discrimination is the only, or indeed the most likely, explanation which can be drawn from the proved facts. It is sufficient that the presumption is within the range of inferences which can reasonably be drawn from those facts (see the Determination of this Court inKieran McCarthy v Cork City CouncilDetermination EDA082.
The Court must be alert to the possibility of subconscious or inadvertent discrimination operating in the mind of the decision maker (seeNevens, Murphy Flood v Portroe Stevedores 16 ELR 282). Hence mere denials of a discriminatory motive in the absence of independent corroboration must be approached with caution.
Application to the Instant Case
- (i)Discrimination of the Gender Ground
The Court cannot accept this contention. The mere fact that women are very much in the minority in board positions in Irish could not be used as grounds for an allegation that an individual company is gender biased. For the Complainant to succeed in this allegation she would have to produce some evidence of gender bias on the part of the Respondent and this she has failed to do. The Complainant cannot succeed in this aspect of her claim.
- (ii)Discrimination of the Race Ground
The onus therefore switches to the Respondent to produce credible evidence, which on the balance of probabilities, proves that there was no discriminatory intent either conscious or subconscious on the part of the Respondent.
In the Courts view the Respondent has discharged this burden. The Court was told that the new Centre in Dublin was in its infancy and there were no clearly defined roles, that the situation was very “fluid” at the time. The selection process in place at the time suggests a certain lack of organisation and co-ordination. The process had no particular plan on roles to be filled, indeed the positions for which the Complainant was being considered were never filled at all due to the uncertainty and fluidity of the organisation at the time. The Respondent seemed to be attempting to find candidates that would “fit into the organisation” rather than the other way around. Those Respondents witnesses involved in the selection process had themselves only been recruited just prior to the Complainant’s application.
The evidence clearly demonstrates that the Complainant’s application was progressing well at each stage until the final decision when a decision was taken not to progress it further due to the reasons cited. As can be seen from Mr. P’s feedback on the interviews he held in March 2009 which included the telephone interview where he asked about the origins of her name, the Complainant was the only female candidate out of five candidates. On the conclusion of that process, Mr. P decided to progress two candidates further to the next stage, one being the Complainant, who was highest ranked. At the next stage of the selection process the feedback was very positive and she was given a“vote to hire”rating. While she was not hired, it is notable that no other candidate was hired in her place. The Court notes that the Respondent has a strong record of recruiting females of ethnic minority origin, in senior roles. The Court further notes Mr P’s evidence, his work throughout the world, his record of promoting ethnic minority women and accepts that the questions posed by him, while inappropriate, were not motivated in any way by a discriminatory attitude.
Accordingly, the Court accepts the veracity of the evidence tendered by the Respondent and is satisfied that the questions asked were not motivated by a discriminatory attitude. Therefore, the Court is satisfied that the decision not to employ the Complainant was not in any way tainted by discrimination.
For all of the reasons set out in this Determination the Court must disallow the Complainant’s appeal and affirm the Decision of the Equality Tribunal.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th August, 2013______________________
Enquiries concerning this Determination should be addressed to John Foley, Court Secretary.